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District WASH Master Planning Facility

Development of robust and realistically costed district WASH master plans to achieve SDG 6 at scale

The development and implementation of a district WASH master plan starts commonly with an assessment of the current situation.

In the concept of a long term strategic (district WASH master) plan, the situational analysis may be preceded by an introduction of the why and how of district WASH master planning, and by institutional strengthening.

Institutional strengthening is about securing a foundation for the development and implementation of the district WASH master plan as a government-led progress. In some cases, the capacity of relevant institutions (e.g. local government, as the service authority, and its partners) needs to be strengthened to lead the process, and involve all the stakeholders in the subsequent steps of assessment, planning, implementation and monitoring.

The development of a district WASH master plan consists of the steps, as shown in the figure below:

  1. Assessment. The current status of WASH services at national and district level must be assessed. The assessment must look at the service levels, the existing and required infrastructure, financial needs and gaps, water resources availability and other information required to understand the status of the infrastructure, the services being provided, and the opportunities and obstacles.
  2. Visioning. Defining the vision of what is to be achieved in the long-term by all stakeholders. There may be locally defined targets. Usually the vision is about providing sustainable universal access to water or sanitation services by a specific date.
  3. Development of a long-term strategy. The detailed WASH services assessment is the evidence base for planning, and a baseline for all subsequent monitoring. The vision is the basis of the long-term goals and targets to be achieved. The assessment data is analysed and validated, and long-term strategic directions are defined for going from the current situation towards achieving the vision.
  4. Costing and financing the plan: Based on the strategic directions, a costed district WASH master plan and financing strategy are produced, which chart the way to universal and sustained WASH access (and any other targets that have been defined).
  5. Launching of the plan: A last step in the development of the district WASH master plan, is its validation and launching. This is important for ensuring political buy-in and local ownership.

The development of the district WASH master plan is followed by its implementation. This entails the harmonised, collaborative effort involving government, NGOs, civil society and the private sector.

Implementation of the master plan takes place through a number of three-to five-year medium-term planning cycles, which each consist of annual planning cycles. Ideally, these medium term and annual cycles align with planning cycles and set by national government.

These medium and annual cycles include target setting (going towards the long-term vision), planning and implementation.

Monitoring is a crucial part of the implementation of the master plan and its medium-term and annual plans. The successful implementation of a plan includes regular reviews, increased learning-, and using mechanisms for monitoring and accountability.

Who does what?

Who does what will depend on the situation and context of the district. In rural districts, with multiple service delivery models, it is key that local government has ownership and is in the driver's seat. In urban districts (municipalities or metropolitan areas), where WASH services are mainly provided by a utility, the utility may have to play a big role in providing leadership for the development of the master plan, possibly in close collaboration with local government.

In addition, involvement of a wide range of stakeholders involved in the provision of water services, is key. This includes development partners - interested in being - active in the district, NGOs, philanthropists (including diaspora, where relevant), civil society, traditional leaders, (and representatives from) service providers, including schools and health care facilities.

Outside facilitation and technical support, from NGOs, private sector (consultants) and/or national or regional government, may be required to:

  • Introduce the master planning process to district stakeholders
  • Support and facilitate institutional strengthening and the formation of a district-level partnership for the development and implementation of the master plan.
  • Support data collection and analysis of the situational analysis
  • Facilitate workshops and working groups, bringing district level stakeholders together to do visioning, developing strategic directions, and developing a costed plan and funding strategy.
  • Support the launching of the master plan.

How long does the development of a district WASH master plan take?

The development of a district WASH master plan, from the situational analysis to the launching of the plan, typically takes 6 to 12 months. The duration depends on the availability of data and information and on the available capacity of district stakeholders to undertake the data collection, assessments and planning exercises.

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